How Do I Know if I Have an Addiction?

Oftentimes when speaking about signs of addiction our minds automatically think of addiction in relation to illicit substances like drugs or alcohol. However addiction comes in many different forms and is not only linked to substance use. One may be addicted to sex, gambling, shopping, eating, playing video games, going to the gym and exercise. An addiction is something that is done in excess in order to produce pleasure, alleviate stress and/or avoid reality despite negative consequences. Addiction also inhibits an individual’s ability to control their impulses in order to avoid these continuous negative behaviors. 

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) addiction is defined as a chronic relapsing disorder characterized by compulsive drug seeking, continued use despite harmful consequences, and long-lasting changes in the brain. It is considered to be both a complex brain disorder and a mental illness impacting the brain’s reward system, motivation and memory functions. Individuals struggling with addiction will often neglect other aspects and/or areas of their lives in order to support or fulfill their desires, wants and/or what they think are needs.  

two types of addiction:

Addiction is commonly linked to substance use however behavioral addictions are just as serious as substance use. 

Substance addiction consists of the following:

Behavioral Addiction consists of the following:

  • Gambling 
  • Working 
  • Sex
  • Shopping 
  • Video games 
  • Using the internet or social media 

why do some people struggle with addiction and others don’t?

The difference between someone who is struggling with an addiction and a person who is not is a healthy individual has the ability to recognize and identify a negative behavior and take the steps necessary to rid of the negative unwanted behavior. However this may not be as simple for someone who is struggling with addiction. An individual who is struggling with addiction will often remain resistant towards admitting there is a problem that exists. Rather than admit there is a problem they will often seek out different ways to justify their behaviors and/or manipulate others into believing what they feel is true. 

Identifying Initial Signs of Addiction:

The following are common early signs of addiction that should not be ignored:

  • Experimentation 
  • Family history of addiction 
  • Being particularly drawn to an activity or substance 
  • Seeking out situations where the substance or activity is present 
  • Episodes of beginning or loss of control with little to no feeling or remorse after

Behavioral Changes in Addiction:

Often substance use starts out as an experimental phase however once the individual has passed the experimental phase they are more than likely to experience a significant change within their behaviors. 

Behavioral changes that may be signs of addiction consist of the following:

  • Lack of interest in hobbies or activities that used to be important 
  • Neglecting relationships or reacting negatively to those closest to them 
  • Missing important obligations like work 
  • Risk taking tendencies, especially to get drugs or continue certain behaviors 
  • Ignoring the negative consequences of their actions 
  • Distinct change in sleeping patterns that result in chronic fatigue
  • Increased secrecy like lying about the amount of substance used or time spent 

Steps to take towards seeking help:

If you or someone you know is struggling or suffering with addiction the resources available are as follows:

  1. Call 1-855-767-8285 for free and confidential treatment referral and information from SAMHSA. 
  2. Seek help from your doctor, local treatment center or support group.
  3. Never be afraid to reach out and ask for help. Remember no one needs to go through their suffering alone


Harbor Village Recovery treatment specialists are here to help. Tell us a little bit about you or your loved one: